Women and body image subject of upcoming exhibit


[img_inline align=”right” src=”http://padnws01.mcmaster.ca/images/JACQUELINE38cropped1.jpg” caption=”Jacqueline,38, photography by Frank Cordelle”]American photographer Frank Cordelle brings the Century Project, a series of black-and-white and colour nude photographs of women, to Canada — and McMaster — for the very first time on Feb. 8.

The four-day exhibit chronicles the lives of girls and women whose lives collectively span 100 years. Accompanying many of the images are personal statements — candid, reflective, incisive, inspiring — from these women.

“Look at us,” says a smiling Kana who, at age 52, wears a heavy scar
across her chest. “I am the lady with only one breast, a freak, dancing on the edge of your mind. See it's gone, that breast, sliced off, cut up and discarded…”

Inasmuch as this is an exhibit about women and body image — many of the women admit they are uncomfortable with their bodies (in fact, some even named this as the reason for agreeing to be photographed) — this show is also a vivid and rich photographic depiction of the issues women confront in their lives: motherhood, illness and disease, eating
disorders, aging, obesity, violence, stereotypes.

“The stories (accompanying the photographs) tend to bring the
photographs to a different level,” remarks Cordelle.”This show is a
good example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.”
Many of the portraits are of women who sought him out for therapeutic
reasons. “There is an altruistic duality in doing this for some of these women. They are helping themselves, but it also enables them to reach out and help someone else.”

“Century is about education, therapy and art. For both women and men, it raises vital issues. Viewers of the project have come away ennobled and empowered by these images and thoughts of real women and their lives,” says Judy Major-Girardin, a professor in the School of Art, Drama & Music.

Cordelle, whose work has been published in Life and Newsweek, began the Century Project in the 1980s. The project gained
momentum in the early 1990s with the public exhibition of some of his
photographs. His work has been exhibited at several universities, churches and women's centres in the U.S.

The Century Project exhibit at McMaster is sponsored by the Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Art, Drama & Music, Women's Health Office, Sexual Harassment/Anti-Discrimination Office, Student Health Services, Ontario Public Interest Research Group
(McMaster), McMaster Students Union Health Education Centre,
McMaster Students Union Gender Equity Committee, Helen Caldwell,
Federation of Canadian Naturists and the National Eating Disorder
Information Centre (Toronto).

Paul Rapoport, professor of music, School of Art, Drama & Music, will present an introductory lecture about the exhibit, titled “Siting the Naked Body,” at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 in TSH-118. Cordelle will lecture on his work on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in TSH-B124.

The photographs will be on display in TSH-114. Viewing dates and times are: Feb. 8: 5-8 p.m.; Feb. 9: 1-5 p.m., 7-9 p.m.;
Feb. 10: 1-5 p.m.; Feb. 11: 1-5 p.m. Other hours TBA

(Photo above: Excerpt from statement by Jacqueline: “There is a shooting-star shaped scar on my breast, a sickle, a half moon. There are crevices where the skin has stretched taut with passion and stretched full with milk. No, this is no sixteen-year-old nubile breast, it is the breast of a warrior woman, proud and regal.”)